Tag Archives: Mario

Who Will Actually Play The Nintendo Switch?

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Nintendo this week finally revealed its next video game platform — Nintendo Switch, and it’s pretty much confirmed all the main points people had speculated and leaked about it for months,  and really, years. It’s a console you can take with you, it’s a handheld you can  connect to your TV.

Because of this, the speculative blog posts I’ve made in the past based on those rumors pretty much still hold. Check out the ones I wrote this past August. It’s certainly an interesting prospect to have the same library of games on the go and at home. My chief concern remains however: who is going to buy this thing, and who is going to make games for it? Continue reading

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Back To Console Gaming

Super Mario 3D World for the Wii U just became the first physical console game I bought in… a year maybe? I don’t even know honestly. Playing it and starting a new Demon’s Souls character over the weekend, I thought my return to consoles for a while would be this big contrast against what I’ve been doing on PC for so long but now I’m not so sure. The convergence of PC and console functionality has been prevalent for years now and I guess I can finally say it’s a real thing in my experience. Continue reading

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Late To The Party: New Super Mario Bros. U

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After just completing the main portion of New Super Mario Bros. U, I think I can finally say I’m caught up on all the mainline Mario platformers. If you haven’t been following my posts, it’s not like I’d never played Mario before, I always had as a kid, but I never made serious attempts at completing any of the 2D games until the last few years or so. I’ve been anticipating the point where I can finally sit back and tally them all up.

I think I like Super Mario Bros. 3 the most. Continue reading

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Late To The Party: New Super Mario Bros. 2

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As I’ve continued catching up with the New Super Mario Bros. series and made inquiries about them, I sense the general opinion is the console iterations are better-received than the handheld ones. I can see why, but after finishing New Super Mario Bros. 2 I could argue that I enjoyed it as much as New Super Maro Bros. Wii, if for different reasons. Continue reading

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April 2015 Nintendo Direct Shows Sustainability, If Little Else

I think it was during a past investor meeting that Nintendo head Satoru Iwata said the company’s plan for the rest of the Wii U’s life cycle was, overall, to keep current owners satisfied. This week’s Nintendo Direct for the most part seems to prove that’s the plan it’s going through with for its current hardware.

An April Nintendo Direct probably isn’t the place to look for attempts at system sellers or really anything to significantly change the landscape of the Wii U and 3DS, but looking at the whole situation with Nintendo right now, I’m not sure we’ll be getting anything of the sort until it unravels Codename NX next year. Everything I saw this week looked like a very strong push at keeping the current momentum going at a steady pace. Continue reading

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Nintendo Direct Did Not Make Me More Excited For 3DS

Before the latest Nintendo Direct I was contemplating if I was almost done with mainstream support of the 3DS. Now I know I very nearly am.

Now this is pretty much all a matter of personal preference on my part. There was a lot for people to enjoy for the system in this week’s Nintendo update. I’m just not one of those people. Probably not in 2015 anyway. My priority will likely switch completely to the Wii U. Continue reading

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Video Game Anniversaries That Will Occur in 2015

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It’s almost become a tradition at this point. Upon the new year I like to look back and see what major games will have significant birthdays (meaning multiples of five). For the most part this is based on data from Wikipedia which does a fairly good job of chronicling game releases by year and month. Most of the games on this list are fondly remembered individual classics. Though, there are a few major franchise and platform anniversaries I didn’t even realize were coming.

The biggest is undoubtedly the 30th Anniversary of Super Mario Bros. and the American launch of the NES along with it. Nintendo doesn’t usually hold massive celebrations specifically for American anniversaries — they already celebrated the Famicom’s 30th anniversary in 2013, but it’s gotta at least do something for Mario. On top of that the Super Famicom turns 25 in Japan this year along with Super Mario World and F-Zero.

One thing that caught me off guard is how apparently great June of 2000 was. Several major PC games will be turning 15 this summer.

The biggest overall theme here is that 2015 is the 10th anniversary of 2005, which was a pretty great year for gaming. I hate “best year of gaming ever” conversations because I don’t think anything measures up to 1998. There have been excellent years since then though, and 2005 was one of them for me. Several of my favorite games of all time will be turning 10 this year, one of which hits that anniversary in a little over a week. In fact, basically none of my favorite games of all time came out after 2005, so this year I might be celebrating the last wave of truly great classics. Continue reading

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Nintendo Direct: IP Parading And IP Neglect

Nintendo’s November 2014 Direct told me one thing above all else: it’s trying to prop up the value its franchises as much as possible. All of them. I can understand why, I just wish it would translate into more full games for certain franchises. Continue reading

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Late To The Party: Super Mario World

Moving up in my “get good at Mario side-scrollers” quest, I just finished Super Mario World. I’d heard a lot of feuding over the years between people who prefer this game and people who prefer Super Mario Bros. 3. It’s almost all I could think about playing through World, and I’m still trying to figure out what exactly sets them apart.

Let me put it this way: to me, SMB3 feels more like a game — on the level of Monopoly or something, whereas World feels more like a typical modern “video game.” They both have very simlar structures but a few key differences.

In my LTTP post on SMB3 I displayed surprise at how much its world map felt like a tabletop game. The way the game gives you choices for how to move about the “board” and between levels while gaming the lives and items system makes exploration its own game where I make decisions. World on the other hand feels like a “world” Nintendo wants you to travel through. It has alternate routes and secrets to find, but there isn’t the sense that moving about the map is a game in itself. That’s fine, but World’s size in today’s terms just isn’t what it was 23 years ago.

Y’know how everything felt bigger when you were a kid? I guess video games can be the same way, because that’s how I feel about World now compared to when I dabbled in it as a child or watched my brother play it. The copy I just finished is a cartridge my family has had since 1991. We played the game on and off for years and my brother never beat it. It felt like a huge, labyrinthine thing. Playing through it now though, I was able to blast through the better half of World in a day, and complete the main game in a weekend. Not to mention overall it’s far easier than the NES entries in the series.

In today’s terms, World feels like a lot of indie games — fun, but very short. I think a big reason for this compared to SMB3 is because World has its own save system.

When I start a game in SMB3, I feel like I’m starting a one-time “session” of the game, and the next time I start it up I’ll just start over from the beginning. Even when I have save states I avoid reloading them. I really treat it it like starting a new game of Monopoly or something like that. I think this is the reason why I immediately started a new game upon finishing SMB3.

With its save system however, World instantly becomes a game that’s finished after multiple sessions. Once I’ve reached the end and even found all the secret content, it feels like it tries to be the end of a long journey and not a short game. I’m generalizing of course, but let’s compare both to recent indie games and other console action games of its era. What it’s really about I guess is replay value.

Older games couldn’t have a lot of content, so they were made difficult so it would take you 50 tries to get through certain parts. By the time you beat the game you’d probably played some parts dozens of times. You were also already trained by that repetition to possibly start the game again after beating it. That was the replay value. A lot of indie games from the last few years try to emulate 8 and 16-bit gaming, but when you bring a save system into an 8-bit platformer that’s the same length as most 8-bit platformers, people end up finishing it in five hours, often in a single session. Maybe most people don’t mind that, especially if they only paid $15 for these games, but it’s something that bothered me about some indie games — I felt like I was done with them too quickly with little incentive for replay.

This is why I really like some more recent indie games that are roguelikes or incorporate new game plus. The roguelike elements force you to constantly restart and slowly master these small games while introducing randomization. It’s kid of a way to bring back the pacing and replayability of old games in a modern way. A great way to maximize the value of a low-budget $15 game is to design it so the game never truly ends.

Of course there are short, linear games I like replaying all the time. Maybe I simply don’t have that urge for World the same way I do for SMB3. I think it’s because World attempts to be a grand, epic experience set to play out in relatively linear way, but in 2014 it ends up feeling tiny.

BULLETS:

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Next-Gen: The First Party Contingent

Come to think of it, for me the most interesting console games coming out this fall are first party. Part of it is first party studios not willing to compromise on hardware in order to make cross-generation games I guess. Three in particular seem to stick out for me right now.

Y’know, I’m actually pretty impressed with what I’ve seen of KillZone Shadow Fall so far. The first three main games were pretty okay but nothing outstanding in my experience, so I have no reason to be hyped just because it’s a KillZone game. But a couple times before I’ve noted interest in how Guerrilla Games seems to be approaching the design for the campaign.

Sony just released some videos showing different approaches to a particular event in Shadow Fall, and Revision3 released an interview with Guerrilla on that (above). Basically, they’re trying to do what I’ve wanted first person shooters to return to for a while — a game design style built around choice and really “playing the game” instead of following the developer’s script. The realization of this immediately makes Shadow Fall’s advertised game mechanics more interesting.

When I first saw the “OWL” thing Guerrilla’s pushing — a flying drone companion, I thought it would be some kind of gimmick scripted to do things at specific trigger points. Shadow Fall’s proposed sense of freedom however means I can choose where I actually want to use the OWL’s tools. All of a sudden I have a rappel rope I can use to jump down from any ledge I want and a distraction I can deploy at any time. At first going into slow motion while breaching a room looks the same as when you automatically do it in Call of Duty, but then I realized the slow-mo is actually a resource you can simply choose to use in such situations, possibly rewarding smart use of the mechanic.

I don’t even know if Shadow Fall is gonna have level design to match the likes of Perfect Dark 64, the first Crysis, or dare I say even Thief. Even if its levels fall short of those games in terms of size and complexity, at least someone making a AAA shooter is trying to head in that direction. All that remains to be seen now is if Shadow Fall will have enemy AI to match that level design.

If I were going to buy a console game this fall though (and owned a Wii U), that game would be Super Mario 3D World. The trailer above is the one trailer I’ve seen this fall and thought to myself “I want to play that. Now.”

Maybe it’s because I still have that loyalty to Nintendo from all the years I only owned their consoles. I know the Wii U is a light year behind modern hardware in terms of graphics, but finally seeing 3D Mario game make its first true graphical leap in a decade is still extremely exciting for me. Things as simple as seeing Mario walk around the world map freely instead of on rails is enough to make me gasp. It’s probably no more significant than the features I balk at in Battlefield 4 or Infamous Second Son trailers, so this is probably what fans of those franchises feel like when watching them.

It could also however be because Super Mairo 3D Land is one of my favorite 3DS games. It’s a game I actually wish had DLC since I finished all the special stages. From it and the Galaxy games all I can say is Nintendo EAD Tokyo is one of the most talented studios around when it comes to fun platformers. And a surprising amount of 3D World looks genuinely new in terms of gameplay mechanics.

I think I also need to give props to Forza 5 after the most recent gameplay video from GameSpot. I was just lamenting the dearth of direct feed footage of the game when this came up, and this is probably one of the most effective advertisements I’ve seen for an Xbox One title.

Other than the multiplatform stuff confirmed to be headed to Xbox One, I haven’t seen a whole lot of games simply using straight footage to push the Xbox One brand. The closest I’ve seen until now has been the Ryse: Son of Rome story trailer. I guess you could cont Titan Fall, but what’s there to push Xbox One at launch? I guess there’s the expectation that Call of Duty fans will “naturally” upgrade from Xbox 360 to Xbox One.

Then comes this Forza video with nothing but clean, 1080p, 60 frame-per-second gameplay jazzed up with orchestral music. I think this is the first time I’ve seen what is indisputably the Xbox One (there is no other version of the game) being allowed to speak for itself by being seen running a game. That’s what I’ve always been asking Microsoft to do — just show us the software.

 

I don’t think there’s some kind of inherent boost in quality a developer gets from being first party. Call of Duty: Ghosts is still gonna sell a ton, Battlefield has a pretty devoted fanbase, and Titanfall has some serious pedigree behind it. I’m just pointing out how the unique position first party studios are in seems to once again be giving them a leg up around launch time (or in Nintendo’s case, first post-launch holiday season).

BULLETS:

  • A clean shot of the Arkham Origins main menu. Nice wallpaper size. – bit.ly/1dq5k8k
  • Another. – bit.ly/16zktNc
  • New “So Well Spoken” podcast – bit.ly/18hQVDn
  • New screenshots from Stage 2 of Odallus: The Dark Callbit.ly/1alYP3k A free demo is at the website.
  • “Remember that you as editor are like a surgeon; you heal with the knife.” – bit.ly/1aiRhyg
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